Gigabyte P35W v5 4K Gaming Laptop Review

One hot tamale!

by Greg Hook
SRP: £1,399.99

What is the Gigabyte P35W v5 4K?

Ultra HD 4K is everywhere right now. Following the developments at CES 2016 in Las Vegas, home cinema fans are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the first UHD Blu-ray players and discs to play in them, which should hopefully arrive in the next couple of months. It will certainly be nice to view actual 4K content on our 4K TV. 4K gaming is also an area developing quickly, although one that requires a system with a very high specification to game with a decent frame rate. Our last 4K laptop review, MSI’s GS60 6QE Ghost Pro 4K gave it a good effort but the GTX970M was just not up to the task for 4K gaming.

Hot on the heels of MSI’s 4K GS60, we have Gigabyte’s latest foray into the 4K market. The P35W is a model we last saw back in 2014 with their v2 update, but the v5 form is, apart from the chassis and the P35W model name, all new with a 15.6” UHD display, Intel Skylake i7-6700HQ CPU, GTX970M graphics, 16GB of DDR4 RAM and both a 128GB M.2 SSD and 1TB HDD. With a specification very similar to the MSI GS60 but coming in £200 cheaper at £1,399.99, it will be interesting to see how the two compare. Read on to see how this system fares…

Design and Connections

The P35W v5, as far as looks are concerned, is unchanged from the previous incarnations. Using an identical all black chassis with a matte finish, brushed aluminium surrounding the keyboard and plastic elsewhere. In fact the only real difference is a red curved point on the lid denoting that this is the 4K model. It’s a simple design, with just the chrome power button and Gigabyte logos breaking up the black look. The build quality is fairly high with strong screen hinges and hardly any flexing noticeable, save for an area to the bottom right below the keyboard which does depress slightly.
Gigabyte P35W v5 4K
Compared to the extras such as the SteelSeries Engine and full colour keyboard backlighting we saw in MSI’s 4K GS60, the Gigabyte P35W v5 looks a bit basic here. There are no fancy bells and whistles at all save for an ambient light sensing backlit keyboard which is in white only. The keyboard itself does feel fairly comfortable to use and responsive, although coming so close to our MSI review we did much prefer that keyboard. The trackpad and buttons are also responsive, but the buttons are so close in level to the surrounding area that often, without looking, we found it took a fair few attempts to press in the right place.

The chassis is very slim at 20.9mm with a footprint of 385 x 270mm but it is pretty heavy, weighing in at 2.6kg. Far heavier than the 2.1kg of MSI’s GS60. 500g may not sound like a lot but it certainly feels noticeably weightier during use, mainly due to the much larger capacity battery Gigabyte has fitted. On the connection side of things, we have most of the latest bases covered. On the left we find 2 x USB 3.0 ports, RJ-45, SD card reader and audio jacks. To the right we have the power connector, a MiniDisplay port, 1 x USB 3.0 (USB charge) port, HDMI, VGA and a USB 3.1 (type C) port. No further connections to the rear or the front, with just the front giving us the DVD drive and the various LED indication lights.

Specification

  • OS: Windows 10 64 Bit
  • CPU: Intel® Core™ i7 Skylake-6700HQ (2.6GHz - 3.5GHz)
  • Display: 15.6" UHD, (3840 x 2160) 4K IPS with Wide Colour Gamut
  • Memory: 2 x 8GB DDR4 @ 2133Mhz
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX970M with 6GB GDDR5
Not a bad specification at all for £1,399 with the current Skylake generation of CPUs and DDR4 memory. The GTX970M has also been given a boost with 6GB of GDDR5; although with the relatively limited power of laptop graphics chips by the time you get close to using that amount of VRAM, the frame rate has probably dropped to single figures anyway, thus rendering it pretty pointless. The WiFi is 802.11ac, we have Bluetooth 4.1, an HD webcam and a DVD drive. The key features here are most likely the 4K 3840 x 2160 screen and a lightning fast M2 SSD which we will come to next.

Gigabyte P35W v5 4K


Storage is provided in both SSD and HDD formats. The SSD is of particular interest as it is the first system we have reviewed that has the new M.2 PCIe SSD fitted. The 128GB NVMe Samsung MZVPV128 offers mouth-watering read speeds of up to 2000 MB/s and write speeds of up to 650MB/s. With our ATTO Disk Benchmark test we received a superb 2005MB/s read and 685MB/s write, almost bang on Samsung's quoted speeds. The HDD is a 1TB 7200RPM HGST Travelstar 7K1000 which tested at 145MB/s read and 139MB/s write in our tests.

Using the latest PC Mark 8 Storage test 2.0 that has recently been released to provide better support for NVMe SSDs, the workload traces are recorded from actual programs and thus not affected by differences in CPU or GPU performance. We got a score of 5079 with a storage bandwidth of 559MB/s and, as expected with this new NVMe SSD, the results were far better than anything we have seen before. The 128GB SSD equates to 107GB in Windows and arrived for testing with 77GB of free space and the 1TB HDD equates to 931GB in Windows. Manually timed from power on with a cold boot to the Windows desktop we get a reasonable average result of 15 seconds, not the quickest we have seen to date and is up there with the slowest of systems we have reviewed with an SSD fitted. Given the superfast NVMe M2 SSD we expected better here.
Gigabyte P35W v5 4K

Is the 4K display any good?

The screen here is a 15.6" UHD 3840 x 2160 resolution IPS display. Excellent viewing angles again as we have come to expect with these panels with a clear image even at angles approaching 170°. The IPS panel is a matte finish and provides a good level of anti-glare with reflections kept to a minimum at all times. As we found with the 4K display on the MSI laptop, with the right content the screen displays amazing quality images. 4K even gives a noticeable improvement for standard web browsing or word processing.

Gigabyte P35W v5 4K

Using SpectraCal software and our C3 Colorimeter, the maximum screen luminance was detected at 259 cd/m2. The screenshot above shows the pre and post calibration results. As you can see the pre check gave a fairly high ColorChecker error of 4.6 (an error level less than 3 is the target) and poor out-of-the-box GreyScale error of 6.96. Following the successful calibration, the ColorChecker error has reduced to just 2.86 with the GreyScale error down to 3.99.

Many thanks to SpectraCal for providing the software and C3 Colorimeter for use with our reviews.

Pre-installed software

Unlike the MSI range of gaming laptops, Gigabyte doesn’t offer much in the way of pre-installed gaming apps or features. There is nothing like MSI’s excellent SteelSeries engine for example. We simply get their ‘Smart’ range of apps. ‘Smart Manager’ offers quick access to the majority of the system settings such as brightness, power mode, colour settings etc. Along with a link to ‘Smart Dashboard’ which gives as the name suggests a dashboard style display of the system performance such as the CPU, GPU and Memory usage, power consumption and system temps to name a few.

Gigabyte P35W v5 4K

‘Smart Update’ offers a very simple and quick way to ensure all the system drivers are up to date and, unlike our previous experience with very slow downloads, Gigabyte appears to have moved the server from the back of beyond to somewhere more local and the drivers downloaded very quickly. That’s about it for pre-installed Gigabyte software and other than those mentioned we also have XSplit Gamecaster which offers a very simple way to record and stream your gaming exploits and is integrated with YouTube, Twitch and UStream, PowerDVD 12 and the usual free 1-month trial of Office 365.

Gigabyte P35W v5 4K

Is the audio up to scratch?

Excluding their premium Aorus range of gaming laptops, we’ve not had a very good experience at all with most of Gigabyte’s laptops of late. They often provide very poor quality sound and with a low maximum volume too. The system here has two 1.5 watt speakers with Dolby Digital Plus Home Theatre and whilst the speakers appear to offer no better sound than we have experienced in the past, the DD+ Home Theatre at least appears to have been better implemented enabling a decent quality sound to come from the speakers with a good level of bass. The maximum volume is perhaps still a bit low, but at least here the sound doesn’t completely break up at maximum volume any more. It’s still not in the same league as MSI, but there are signs of improvement at least. But don't, whatever you do, turn off the DD+ Home Theatre, it's a whole different ball game when you do that!
Gigabyte P35W v5 4K

P35W v5 Battery Life

The battery here is a Li-polymer, 11.1v with a whopping 75.81Wh rating. Explaining away the heavier weight of the laptop, this is one of the highest rated batteries we have seen for a while and should on paper give excellent results; especially when paired with the Skylake CPU which does offer better battery life.

Battery Life Tests

Powermark Battery Test 290 minutes
YouTube 4K, High Performance, 100% Brightness 120 minutes
YouTube 1080P, Balanced, 50% Brightness 200 minutes
Netflix 1080P, Balanced, 50% Brightness 229 minutes
Gaming 68 minutes
The results shown above are encouraging and at least shows you can watch a complete film or two on battery without it dying before you get to the end. The 4K YouTube test was double what we received with MSI’s GS60 which was to be expected given the battery is almost twice the capacity. With gaming the battery life is still pretty low, even with this much larger capacity battery. Plus, as is the norm with gaming laptops, using the battery gives you a heavily restricted system with gaming capped to 30FPS. To charge to 100% from flat took 125 minutes. The laptop does go to sleep with 4% battery remaining, so you will have a few extra minutes to save that vital work before it goes completely flat!

P35W v5 Benchmarks

Our standard tests as shown in the table below are each run at least 3 times, with the average score taken. The tests were all carried out with the laptop in high performance mode, mains power plugged in and the screen set to 3840 x 2160 resolution. With this laptop we are using Nvidia 359.00 graphics drivers, not the latest but for some reason later drivers created major performance issues with gaming and benchmarks. The GTX970M is currently the second best mobile GPU and which according to Passmark's Video Card benchmark listing sits very close in performance to that of a desktop GTX660 or R9 270.Using Nvidia's Maxwell technology we have 1280 pipelines, a core clock of 924-1038Mhz and memory speed of 5000Mhz.

Gaming Performance

3840x2160 4K Resolution FPS (Fraps)
Battlefield 4 High Settings 28
Battlefield 4 Ultra Settings 22
Sims 4 Medium Settings 81
Sims 4 Ultra Settings 49
Max Payne 3 High Settings 30
Max Payne 3 Maximum Settings 26
Metal Gear Solid 5 Maximum Settings 19
Metal Gear Solid 5 High Settings 28

Gaming Performance

1920 x 1080 Resolution FPS (Fraps)
Battlefield 4 Ultra Settings 69
Sims 4 Ultra Settings 112
Max Payne 3 Maximum Settings 32
Metal Gear Solid 5 Maximum Settings 51
As you can see from the results and echoing our last 4K MSI review, 4K gaming is too much for the GTX970M to handle with only Sims 4 giving an FPS that was at all playable. Lowering to 1080P though is a different matter entirely and the system performed superbly across all our gaming tests with just the usual Max Payne 3 being too demanding for the system at maximum settings. The GPU does have 6GB of GDDR5 to use, but Max Payne 3 would only recognise 3GB of it.

The other results such as the PC Mark 8 Home Conventional of 2830, Unigine Valley 1.0 of 1541 and Heaven 4 of 1162 roughly compare to similar laptops with GTX970M graphics that we have reviewed with perhaps the PC Mark 8 score being a little lower than we would have liked. On the whole the gaming results show that this system is more than capable enough to play the majority of the latest games on 1080P, but sadly you can forget about 4K gaming.

Benchmark Score Summary

Time to Desktop 15.04 Seconds 8
Super Pi @ 1M 10.89 seconds 9
3D Mark - Ice Storm 1.2 38939 4
3D Mark - Cloud Gate 1.1 18555 5
3D Mark - Fire Strike 6619 6
3D Mark - Sky Diver 18229 6
Passmark Performance Test 8.0 3699 6
Cinebench R15 Open GL 88.57FPS - CPU 667 CB 7
Unigine Heaven 4.0 1162 6
Unigine Valley 1.0 1541 6
PC Mark 8 - Home Conventional 3.0 2830 5
PC Mark 8 - Storage Test 2.0 5079 8

System Noise and Heat

The HWMonitor screenshot below shows the maximum temperatures the various system components reached during our benchmark and gaming tests. The CPU core temperatures at idle were 36°C and under test conditions these reached a balmy 99°C with the Nvidia GPU reaching 80°C.
Gigabyte P35W v5 4K

One issue we have always had with Gigabyte’s top spec laptops is they just can’t cope with the heat produced, resulting in a ridiculously noisy system or one that just gets far too hot for comfort. Here with the P35W v5 it is improving, with a chassis that uses Gigabyte’s ‘innovative Supra-cool technology’ that features dual heat pipes and dual fans for the CPU and GPU. As far as noise is concerned this does help to keep the system fairly quiet with a maximum 36dBs during our gaming and benchmark tests.

Gigabyte P35W v5 4K

Heat on the other hand is still an issue. There are exhaust vents at the rear where the majority of the heat should be expelled to, but the underside does get extremely hot. Too hot to touch and far too hot for it to comfortably be on your lap. As you can see from the maximum CPU temperature of 99°C, the heat could be an issue over time.

Verdict

Pros

  • Stunning 4K Display
  • Excellent specification
  • Decent battery life
  • Fairly quiet when under load

Cons

  • System not capable of 4K Gaming
  • Restricted gaming performance using battery power
  • Gets very hot

Gigabyte P35W v5 4K Gaming Laptop Review

Should I buy the Gigabyte P35W v5 4K?

At £1,399.99, Gigabyte’s 4K P35W v5 offers a lot for the money. The specification is top drawer with the latest Skylake i7-6700HQ CPU, GTX970M graphics with 6GB of GDDR5, 16GB of DDR4 and the outstanding 4K display. For those wanting a high spec system, this has a lot of positives, but unfortunately a few negatives too.

The 4K display provides stunning visuals and the system is powerful enough to not give you any issues during video playback, but 4K gaming is too much for this system - so it’s a maximum resolution of 1080P to get a decent playable frame rate. The battery life is very good, although gaming gives it a tough workout. The audio quality isn’t bad, but an area Gigabyte are still lagging behind MSI in, along with the heat issues.

What alternatives are available?

As for alternatives, at £200 more MSI’s 4K GS60 is almost identical in terms of specification, apart from having double the SSD size, although not the latest NVMe SSD as we have here. The custom builders are the most likely alternatives with similar and slightly better systems available for around £1,500-1,600. If you can forego gaming, there are many cheaper alternatives with a 4K display, yet with a much reduced specification we would question just how well they may cope with 4K videos.

The Gigabyte P35W v5 excels in many areas, but does fall short in a few too. It doesn’t quite have the refinements and extras of MSI’s gaming laptops but doesn’t carry their price premium either. For £1,400 it does offer good value for money considering what you get. As such, the system does just enough to merit an AVForums Recommended award.
Recommended

Scores

Screen Quality

.
9

Sound Quality

.
.
8

Processing Speed

.
.
8

Connectivity

.
9

Features

.
.
.
7

Build Quality

.
.
8

Value For Money

.
.
8

Verdict

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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